HACIENDA HEIGHTS, Calif. – An auxiliary bishop in the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles died Saturday of an apparent gunshot wound in Hacienda Heights, but authorities said there was no threat to the public.
Broadcast and print media outlets are reporting the deceased was 69- year-old Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell, but law enforcement had yet to make it official.
The apparent shooting occurred just before 1 p.m. Saturday in the 1500 block of Janlu Avenue, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which called the death “suspicious.”
The victim was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. No suspect description was released.
Sheriff’s homicide detectives were summoned to conduct a crime scene investigation. Lt. Michael Modica told reporters at the scene the man was found dead in a room of the house from an apparent gunshot wound to the upper body.
In a statement Saturday on lacatholics.org, Most Reverend José H. Gomez Archbishop of Los Angeles made no reference to the shooting but said: “I am very sad this afternoon to report that our beloved Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell has passed away unexpectedly. It is a shock and I have no words to express my sadness.”
Archbishop Gomez said O’Connell was a priest and later a bishop in Los Angeles for 45 years.
“He was a peacemaker with a heart for the poor and the immigrant, and he had a passion for building a community where the sanctity and dignity of every human life was honored and protected,” Gomez said.
“Please join me in praying for Bishop Dave and for his family in Ireland,” the Archbishop said. “May Our Lady of Guadalupe wrap him in the mantle of her love, and may the angels lead him into paradise, and may he rest in peace.”
O’Connell was born in County Cork, Ireland in 1953 and named an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by Pope Francis in 2015. He studied for the priesthood at All Hallows College in Dublin and was ordained to serve in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1979, according to the LA Archdiocese.
He served as associate pastor in several parishes and as pastor at St. Frances X. Cabrini, Ascension, St. Eugene and St. Michael’s parishes, all in L.A.
As chairman of the interdiocesan Southern California Immigration Task Force, O’Connell helped coordinate the church’s response to immigrant children and families from Central America in recent years. He also sponsored the enrollment of several young immigrants in Catholic schools, several of whom have advanced to college.
At a national level, he was the chairman of the Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Anyone with information about the death was asked to call homicide detectives at 323-890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.